Afghanistan delayed elections in the southern province of Kandahar for one week after the assassination of the region's powerful police commander. The killing of General Abdul Raziq on Thursday dealt a blow to the western backed government before a weekend vote for parliament. However US defense chief Jim Mattis warned Friday it was too soon to say Raziq's death scare would scare away voters in the rest of the country.
>> We need to find who's done this, but right now we are going toward the election, and we will continue to defend the Afghan people.>> Raziq was a popular figure and a key American ally in the fight against the Taliban. He was shot on Thursday by a bodyguard in Kandahar.
That was right after this meeting with America's top commander in the country, General Scott Miller. Miller wasn't wounded. Locals said he was saved by his body armour. The Taliban claimed the attack and said that they were also targeting Miller. In southern Kandahar, Raziq maintained a network of informants that the US saw as vital in its 17 year war.
He'd already survived dozens of attempts on his life and was known for his brutal tactics against militants in the country's south. While Mattis admitted Friday that terrorism can have a short term effect, officials fear the death of Raziq might stop some from voting at all this weekend. And any violence at voting booths, might even risk the early stages of peace talks between the US and the Taliban.
With one retired US Defense Department official telling Reuters any violence could lead US negotiators to question dealing with the Taliban at all. Earlier this week, one candidate for the election was killed when a bomb planted under his office chair exploded. That brought to ten the number of candidates killed in just the last two months.
Thousands of police and security forces have been deployed across the country to protect voters at polling booths.